Starlink and Viasat: Comparing Speed, Latency, Cost, and Much More

The satellite internet has become an essential part of our daily lives, especially for those living in rural areas. With the advent of technology, various satellite internet providers have emerged to cater to this need.

Two of the biggest players in the residential satellite internet market are Starlink and Viasat. But how do they compare to each other?

It is important to have a fair comparison between different options to make an informed decision on which one to choose.

In this article, we’ll delve into the background of Starlink vs. Viasat and compare them in terms of speed, reliability, cost, and more.

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What is Viasat?

viasat satellite internet

Viasat is one of the major players in the residential satellite internet market, having started offering satellite internet services in 2005.

Unlike Starlink, Viasat utilizes satellites in geosynchronous orbit, meaning they remain in the same position relative to the Earth, as opposed to Starlink’s low Earth orbit satellites. This means Viasat’s satellites can cover larger areas and serve more customers.

The latest generation of Viasat satellites is the ViaSat-3 series, which can provide faster internet speeds and more coverage than previous generations.

Viasat’s satellite internet services are also widely available, even in remote areas where terrestrial broadband services may not be accessible. This makes it an ideal choice for people who live in rural areas or places with limited broadband infrastructure.

Starlink is a satellite internet service offered by SpaceX, the private space exploration company founded by Elon Musk. The development of Starlink has been underway for several years, and the service became available to the public in late 2020.

Starlink uses advanced satellites positioned in low earth orbit, which provides significant performance benefits compared to traditional satellite internet services.

This new generation of satellites offers high-performance specifications, including low latency and high-speed internet.

Additionally, the company is rapidly expanding its coverage area, making Starlink an increasingly attractive option for those looking for satellite internet service.

Speed Comparison

Speed Comparison

Speed is often one of the most important factors when choosing an internet service provider. It determines how quickly you can download and upload files, videos, and other content. This is why it’s important to compare the speeds of different providers to make an informed decision.

Viasat offers satellite internet services and has been offering satellite internet since 2005. 

According to the BroadBandNow report, the median speeds for Viasat customers are 43.76 Mbps for downloading and 2.78 Mbps for uploading. It’s important to note that advertised speeds are not guaranteed, as they can vary based on many factors.

Starlink, on the other hand, is a satellite internet service provided by SpaceX that began offering its services to the public in late 2020. Its satellites are in low earth orbit and are designed to offer high-performance specifications. According to an Ookla report, the median speeds for Starlink customers are 62.53 Mbps for downloading and 7.24 Mbps for uploading. Starlink customers can expect speeds to be anywhere between 50-200 Mbps.

In terms of speed comparison, Starlink wins hands down. Its higher download and upload speeds mean customers can enjoy faster and more reliable internet speeds than Viasat. This makes it a great option for those who want fast and reliable internet, especially in remote areas where other options may not be available.

Latency Comparison

Latency, the time it takes for a signal to travel from its origin to its destination and back, is a crucial aspect of internet connectivity. This section will compare the latency of Starlink and Viasat.

Latency is an important factor that determines the responsiveness and interactivity of an internet connection. It takes time for a signal to travel from its origin to its destination and back, often expressed in milliseconds (ms).

Viasat is at a disadvantage due to the higher altitude of satellites: Viasat uses satellites in geosynchronous orbit, which are located much higher in the sky than Starlink’s low earth orbit satellites. This disadvantages Viasat regarding latency, as signals have to travel a longer distance.

Viasat median latency: 631ms: According to an Ookla report, the median latency for Viasat is 631ms. This means that half of Viasat users experience a latency higher than 631ms, and half experience a latency lower than 631ms.

Starlink median latency: 48ms: In contrast, the median latency for Starlink is 48ms, much lower than Viasat. This low latency makes Starlink well-suited for online gaming and video calls, where low latency is essential for a smooth and responsive experience.

Starlink can be used for online gaming and video calls: Due to its low latency, Starlink is well-suited for online gaming and video calls. With a median latency of just 48ms, Starlink provides a smooth and responsive experience, making it a great option for gamers and video callers.

Starlink wins in latency comparison: In terms of latency, Starlink wins over Viasat. With a median latency of just 48ms, Starlink provides a much more responsive and interactive internet experience than Viasat, which has a median latency of 631ms.

Reliability Comparison

The shared disadvantage of using satellites for internet connection

Regarding satellite internet services, Starlink and Viasat have to overcome the shared disadvantage of using satellites for an internet connection. Due to the nature of satellite connections, certain environmental factors can impact the connection’s reliability. These factors include heavy rain, snow, and ice, as well as trees, buildings, and other obstructions that can block the line of sight between the satellite and the user’s dish.

Heavy rain, snow, and ice can cause interruptions.

One of the biggest challenges for satellite internet services is heavy precipitation. When there is heavy rain, snow, or ice, the signal from the satellite to the user’s dish can become degraded, leading to reduced speeds and even outages. This is a challenge that both Starlink and Viasat have to deal with.

Trees, buildings, and other obstructions can lead to problems.

Another factor that can impact the reliability of satellite internet is obstructions between the satellite and the user’s dish. This can include trees, buildings, and other structures that block the line of sight between the two. When this happens, the signal can become degraded, leading to reduced speeds and even outages.

Reliability comparison is a tie

Regarding reliability, Starlink and Viasat face similar challenges, making it difficult to compare the two. As a result, the reliability comparison between the two is a tie. Both services are subject to the same environmental factors that can impact the reliability of satellite internet, so it’s difficult to say which one is more reliable. Ultimately, it may come down to individual user experiences and the specific conditions in their area.

Data Caps/Limits Comparison

Data Caps/Limits Comparison is important when comparing Starlink and Viasat. A data cap limits how much data you can use each month. This is a crucial aspect for many people who rely on satellite internet service as their only option for a home internet connection.

Viasat does not have a hard data cap, meaning users will not receive a bill for exceeding the limit. However, the speeds will slow down after a certain amount of data has been used. This can be a significant problem for those who rely on a fast internet connection for work or other important activities.

Starlink has no data caps and does not slow down speeds, regardless of how much data is used. This makes it an attractive option for those requiring unlimited data usage, especially those with a high demand for internet services.

In conclusion, Starlink wins the Data Caps/Limits comparison between the two satellite internet services. With no data caps or slowing speeds, Starlink offers a more flexible and user-friendly option for those who require a lot of data usage.

Cost Comparison

cost Comparison viasat vs starlink

Equipment and Service Costs

When comparing Starlink and Viasat, one of the first things to consider is the equipment and service cost. Viasat requires a satellite dish, modem, and router, with prices ranging from $149.99 to $499.99, depending on the equipment package selected. Starlink also requires a satellite dish and modem, with prices ranging from $499 to $599 for the required equipment. It is important to note that the equipment cost is a one-time investment, and the monthly service costs are separate.

Monthly Cost

The monthly cost of satellite internet service can vary depending on the provider and selected package. Viasat offers a range of packages starting from $50 per month for a 12 Mbps connection. Starlink, on the other hand, charges $99 per month for its high-speed internet service.

Installation Cost

Regarding installation costs, both Viasat and Starlink require professional installation, which can cost an additional fee. Viasat charges between $149 to $499 for installation, while Starlink charges $499 for installation, which is included in the equipment cost.

It’s important to note that while the cost of equipment and installation may seem steep, it is a one-time investment, and the monthly service cost is a recurring expense. Regarding overall cost, it is difficult to say which provider is more affordable as it depends on individual needs and preferences. However, comparing costs, equipment, and service packages is important before deciding.

FeatureStarlinkViasat
Download Speed (median)62.53 Mbps23.68 Mbps
Upload Speed (median)7.24 Mbps2.78 Mbps
Latency (median)48ms631ms
ReliabilityTieTie
Data Caps/LimitsNo caps or slowing down of speedsSlowing down of speeds after a certain amount of data used, no hard data cap
CostEquipment and service costs, monthly cost, installation costEquipment and service costs, monthly cost, installation cost
InstallationCost involvedCost involved

Conclusion

In conclusion, several important factors must be considered when comparing Starlink and Viasat. Starlink wins in terms of speed and latency, offering median download speeds of 62.53 Mbps and latency of 48ms.

Starlink also has no data caps, making it a clear winner in this category. 

However, regarding reliability, both services have limitations due to their satellite-based delivery system, making it a tie.

Regarding cost, both services have the equipment and monthly fees, but Starlink has a higher initial installation cost. Ultimately, the best choice for an individual will depend on their specific needs and priorities.

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